When I was in my late teens my father gifted me with a clear tube filled with blue goo. As you can guess by that sentence my mother usually gave the gifts, but that made this tube of goo special and so I kept it. It was kind of like an hourglass (without the hourglass shape) in that as you flipped it the thick, slow-moving goo would go through a hole to the other side. As it did so, bubbles formed and slowly popped. In these mesmerizing moments, focused simply on blue goo moving from one place to the next, you slowly relaxed. I brought the blue goo to college and found it to be the perfect antidote to exam stress. As I would begin to freak out that my brain simply couldn’t remember all that was being asked, I would notice it on my desk and flip it. I knew I had until the goo settled to do anything but study. These moments brought freedom to back away from the chaos to listen to some music, dance a bit, grab a snack, or simply lie down while the BG (listen, it has been with us so long it deserves a nickname) made it’s journey to its next destination.
This past year held a lot for every person in every home around the globe and when my kids began their school day at our dining room table instead of their desks at school I brought out ol’ BG. Our girls had already fallen in love with BG years ago. Now, I didn’t pair this action with any “one you can grow on” teachable moments. I simply put it on the table where a normal person might put a lovely vase of fresh cut flowers. I was shocked by how often the girls would bring their hands to their forehead, look up from the computer, and as they slid down to despair they would grab our bestie BG and flip it. Then, they would just watch. Eventually a smile would begin to emerge and they would call the rest of us over when the super big bubble was reaching maximum capacity and laughter would reign once again. At this time they would realize they had to pee, were thirsty, or needed a snack. They had unknowingly created space to breathe and remember their needs.
There are times for each of us where life simply becomes overwhelming as we fail to see how it will all work out, or even if it could at this point. As you begin to feel the stress tsunami build, sometimes you need to make a game time decision. Often we have the wisdom and discernment to know at that moment that we need a break, but instead we head into something else productive. This would be a great time to empty the dishwasher, vacuum the living room, do some back-to-school online shopping or return emails or texts (okay, AND scroll through social media). But in doing so we fail to give our brain the break it deserves to catch its breath. As we pick up the pace, ever trying to win the race of who can cross the most off of the to-do list, we start to lose a part of ourselves. The human part that needs to breathe to keep on ticking is denied, and for what? Productivity. This cycle has incredible velocity and can feel as though to stop it would be like trying to stop an oncoming train. But if we are going to thrive in this next chapter of life, we are going to need to remember to look up and flip the BG, taking time to breathe and remember that we were not made simply to excel, produce, or achieve.
This is the time, right before everything ramps up again, for us to find our BG. Everything seems like it should go well because it is familiar and we have accomplished it before, but it’s been awhile and the muscles that used to be so strong have been laying dormant while we’ve built others that were vital to our navigating survival mode. What will be your blue goo? When pandemic news, school decisions, and managing the uneasiness of your people when heading back into a new normal seems too much to handle, what will remind you that you have space to breathe? Treat yourself to the gift of remembering your humanity. Take a deep breath and grab a moment so you can realize you are hungry, tired, and need to pee. I think that the most important thing we can check off our list right now is to find what will give us room to breathe when the list becomes too much. Grab your favorite beverage, put on the “piano chill” playlist, and decide what will be your BG and what will bring you space to breathe while the goo descends. This is wise, necessary, and honors our createdness. Breathe.